Friday, October 13, 2006

The Wages of Spin

Jake Ford held a press conference. That's part of the playbook for a politician whose campaign is about to be rocked by scandal; When you find out that the story will be broken by a major media outlet the next day, you hold a press conference as the story goes to press so that it looks like getting the story out there was your idea.

Unfortunately for Jake, his performance at the press conference actually made his performance at the League of Women Voters debate look solid by comparison.

He had mentioned ONE arrest on the Jennings Bernard Show. In the press conference, he admitted that it was more like four, but he sounded less than convincing even when he said that. "I've been arrested, I believe, maybe four times total".

Huh? Has it happened so often that you can't remember? Personally, I've never been arrested, but I would assume that it's a more memorable event in your life than that. I think most law abiding citizens wouldn't have to guess at that one.

He says that the assault arrest was "erroneous". Is he saying that his father didn't recognize the guy that was beating him up? As in "I only thought it was my son that was breaking my ribs. It was actually the one-armed man"?

Of course, you can't really dissect the rest of his rap sheet that way--- He wouldn't go into detail about it. He spent much more time talking about Steve Cohen.

Over the course of a press conference that lasted less than fourteen minutes, the story evolved from "hitting the car of a 79-year-old woman" to "breaking out her headlamps" to "breaking out her taillights" to "breaking out her windshield", to "jumping up and down on her car" to "assaulting a 79-year-old woman".

Eventually, you have to find a version of the story and stick with it, Jake. A little consistency is all we ask.

And of crouse, he follows it up with this little gem. When a reporter asked him "By focusing on this alleged beating of this woman, aren't you just engaging in the kind of behavior that you're criticizing Steve Cohen for?", referring to the fact that Jake Ford had said several times over the course of the press conference that it's Cohen's fault this is coming up.

"Absolutely not," Jake said. "That's why I showed up here today. If I was criticizing him, I wouldn't have showed up."

This muddled statement, had it been made by a man of similar intellect, would have been called a "Bushism".

Of course, the best part was when he was asked why he hadn't brought this out earlier if it was no big deal, and he turned on the reporters.

"Again, it's public information. I would assume that you all would be doing your jobs on behalf of the people of Memphis."

Just like the arrests themselves, it's all someone else's fault.

The media, if anything, deserves a thank you note from the Ford campaign. Every day that he's been in this race has been a fresh opportunity for him to do the right thing and get out in front of this story. Every day, he's woken up and chosen not to. Yet in his mind, it's Steve Cohen's fault that it's out there, and it's the media's fault that he has to talk about it now.

And of course, none of it was his fault at the time of the arrests. Depending on which excuse you like better, it was "erroneous" (Press conference) or "mistaken identity and discrimination" (Commercial Appeal).

Either way, it's a pathetic excuse from a pathetic candidate.

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